About WHO

Welcome from WHO Director-General

January 2014

Portrait of WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan

As the process of WHO reform matures, I am pleased to welcome you to this fourth summary of recent progress. We are moving forward in our efforts to make the work of WHO more structured, more strategic and more realistic. We see some good signs that reforms are improving the transparency and accountability of WHO’s work, and this has been warmly welcomed by our Member States.

A second Financing Dialogue was held in November, again in a frank and open spirit of looking for ways to ensure that all of the Organization’s core functions are adequately funded. WHO will operate more efficiently and more effectively when we can see the funding gaps and make appropriate adjustments.

When we began these first-ever dialogues, we knew that they would be a learning experience for everyone, but were not entirely sure about the outcome. I believe we can now conclude that one major outcome is trust. Some long-standing problems and inefficiencies were brought out into the open and great efforts were made to identify workable remedial measures. A new open-access web portal to support funding decisions was launched just before the meeting and was immediately welcomed as an important new tool for transparency and accountability.

Organizational reform was discussed during a meeting in November that brought together the heads of all WHO country offices. Although these offices address highly diversified country needs, voices were united in calling for specific changes that can improve our performance and our contribution to the health of their people.

Human resource reforms, including streamlined recruitment and selection processes, are being aligned with programmatic needs, staff needs for learning and career development, and fiscal realities. The reforms aim to attract talent, retain talent, and create an enabling environment. The need for a healthy balance between work and personal lives, encouraged through family-friendly policies, is recognized.

Finally, the newsletter describes another first: a new policy that ensures open access to WHO-authored or WHO-funded research published in external journals and books. Payment barriers to access will be removed for everyone, increasing the visibility and impact of WHO’s contributions to research. Such a policy also underscores my firm commitment to fairness.

Perhaps most important, Member States remain deeply engaged in the reform process and are largely satisfied with the concrete improvements that are being introduced. They are seeing some results.